Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Feb. 7

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Immigration bureaucracy keeping Junction family apart

If you haven’t read Bobbie Curd’s story about Junction City woman Tori Morris and her husband, Mahmoud Al Saloum, that appeared in our most recent weekend edition, find a copy or visit amnews.com and give it a read. You won’t regret it.

Morris and the man she loves are kept apart — and Mahmoud has never been able to hold his son — because of our country’s complex, bureaucratic immigration system.

It shouldn’t be hard for an upstanding, hard-working person like Mahmoud to make it to this country, especially when his family is already here.

This country is built on many free-market principles, including healthy immigration. We have long profited off the fact that the U.S. is the place immigrants strive to reach. Whenever other countries are hurting because of regressive governments that push their people down and make life harder, the residents of those countries dream of coming to the U.S. They know they won’t have much and their wellbeing will be dependent on how hard they’re willing to work. But they also know the U.S. is where anyone can succeed with hard work — and that hope drives them.

That hope of being judged on your merits rather than your origins is one of the secrets to American success. It’s why decade after decade we take in immigrants from countries where things aren’t as good, and decade after decade those immigrants aspire to succeed and contribute to the U.S. economy — the largest economy in the world.

Right now, it seems we’re in a period of strong anti-immigration sentiment, despite how immigrants have proved over and over to be the lifeblood of our economy.

The U.S. has also always had a streak of isolationism that opposes immigration. Many times throughout our history, fear of people who are different has fueled arguments that immigrants pose a threat rather than an economic benefit. Our track record is far from spotless, but we have fortunately been more in favor of immigration than opposed over our centuries of existence, and our economic dominance is proof positive of that.

Stories like Tori’s and Mahmoud’s show we need to do more than just improve our immigration system; we need a complete overhaul. We cannot allow fear to destroy a linchpin of American success.

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Danville BCTC gets $2.7M for manufacturing center

In August, Danville’s Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus was one of 117 organizations that applied to receive a slice of $100 million in “Work Ready” grant funding. Last week, they were one of just 25 chosen to receive funding.

BCTC needs about $4.5 million on top of what the community has already committed to in order to build its advanced manufacturing center, which would double the college’s capacity to create graduates in several areas that local manufacturers have said they will be hiring in. BCTC didn’t get the full $4.5 million it was seeking, but it got more than half — $2,736,000 to be exact.

This was a resounding success not just for BCTC, but for the community around the college that is supporting its efforts. Local governments and industries committed matching funds and did so with gusto, blowing past the $500,000 minimum needed to be eligible for “Work Ready” funding and contributing $650,000. BCTC actually revised their initial grant request of $5 million downward because of how much the local community kicked in.

We’re impressed, and we’re excited for the possibilities that can be unlocked by BCTC’s expansion.